The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) has chosen the winners of its 2021 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship. Twenty-two students who represent PFMA’s membership earned the scholarships based on their academic record, school and community involvement, a submitted essay and required recommendations.
“Congratulations to these deserving students on all of their hard work. We’re thrilled to provide these scholarships to help them in their college pursuits,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “Thank you to our generous PFMA members for their contributions to the Ridge Scholarship program. It would not be possible without their commitment.”
This spring, an independent judging panel evaluated scholarship applications to choose the 22 recipients. Recipients must work for a PFMA member or be the child of an employee or company owner that is a PFMA member. Each student received between $2,000 and $2,500, with a total of $45,000 awarded in 2021. Recipients are sponsored by PFMA members that contribute to the Ridge Fund Endowment, including The GIANT Company, Karns Quality Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa.
This year’s recipients are listed below with their goals in higher education. The scholarship amount and sponsoring business are listed in parentheses.
Kiersten Barr of Havertown, Pa., plans to attend Clemson University and major in microbiology, with a concentration in biomedicine. ($2,000; Wawa)
Katherine Calderone of Camp Hill, Pa., plans to attend West Chester University of Pennsylvania and major in chemistry. ($2,000;PFMA)
Ethan Cramer of York, Pa, plans to attend Penn State York and major in architectural engineering. ($2,500; Rutter's)
Saidy Marisol Cruz Martinez of Elkin, N.C., plans to attend Appalachian State University and major in building sciences, architectural technology and design, with a minor in sustainable design. ($2,000; Sheetz)
Holly Deemer of DuBois, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in supply chain and information systems, with a minor in information sciences and technology. ($2,000; PFMA)
Michael Engles of Sykesville, Md., plans to attend Salisbury University and major in marketing. ($2,000; PFMA)
Molly Gill of Lewisburg, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in computer science, with a minor in mathematics. ($2,000; PFMA)
Kylee Harvey of Kennett Square, Pa., plans to attend Sacred Heart University and earn her master’s in criminal justice. ($2,000; Wawa)
Norah Kelly of Scranton, Pa., plans to attend the University of Notre Dame as an undecided student. ($2,000; PFMA)
Erin Kiple of Burlington, N.J., plans to attend Stockton University to major in nursing. ($2,000; Wawa)
Delia Morchesky of Carrolltown, Pa., plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design to major in animation. ($2,000; PFMA)
Peter Murnane of West Chester, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in mechanical engineering. ($2,000; The GIANT Company).
Caroline Nagle of Altoona, Pa., plans to attend Lock Haven University to study as a pre-physician assistant and minor Spanish. ($2,000; Sheetz)
Shannon O'Malley of Fairless Hills, Pa., plans to attend The University of Alabama and major in anthropology, with a minor in liberal arts. ($2,000; Wawa)
Riya Patel of Coatesville, Pa., plans to attend Rutgers University and major in cognitive science, with minors in biological sciences and health and society. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Hayden Perrone of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Berks and major in biology. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Mark Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend Kutztown University and major in cinema, television and media production. ($2,500; Rutter's)
Nolan Pye of Doylestown, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in chemical engineering. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Kaitlyn Sheriff of Landisburg, Pa., plans to attend Lycoming College and major in astrophysics, with minors in computer science and mathematics. ($2,000; Karns Quality Foods)
Sandya Subramanian of Bridgewater, N.J., plans to attend Boston University and major in medical science, with a minor in Latin. ($2,000; PFMA)
Garrit Witters of Elizabethtown, Pa., plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology and major in computing security. ($2,000; The GIANT Company)
Donald Yealy of New Oxford, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University and major in forest ecosystem management. ($2,000; PFMA)
Established in 1996, the Ridge Scholarship honors the parents of former Gov. Tom Ridge. Thomas R. Ridge was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife, Laura, was a great advocate of education for their three children: Tom, David and Vikki. To date, 600 students have earned Ridge Scholarships, and more than $1.1 million has been awarded.
Shelf Confidence, a new podcast launched by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association this week, focuses on trending and innovative initiatives in the food and beverage retail industry.
The biweekly podcast features PFMA members who discuss how their organization approaches topics like environmental initiatives, food waste, sustainable packaging, the beyond the meat trend and more. PFMA has more than 800 members representing convenience stores, supermarkets, independent grocers, wholesalers, consumer product vendors, national and regional chain stores and locally owned independent retailers of all sizes operating in Pennsylvania.
In the first episode, host Liz Kemmery chatted with Jessica Groves, social impact manager at The GIANT Company, about the company’s steps toward greater sustainability and what that means for its community. The episode highlights The GIANT Company’s Healing the Planet initiative, which includes new partnerships with the FlashFood App and Rodale Institute.
“This new podcast provides another way for PFMA and its members to stay in front of trending issues in our industry,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “A big thank you to Jessica for sharing these exciting projects at The GIANT Company. Stay tuned for more great interviews with our members.”
Upcoming episodes will feature Andrea Karns of Karns Quality Foods discussing the popularity of the home meal kit trend and Lisa Luben of Country Fair talking about how the Erie-based convenience store chain has turned around food waste to help its community.
Shelf Confidence will post a new episode every other Wednesday morning. The podcast is available to download on pfma.org, or listen and subscribe to Shelf Confidence on Spotify. It will soon be available on Apple and Google podcasts.
During the 2021 Annual Conference board meeting in June, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association welcomed three new members to its board. Mike Mammone, Senior Director of Customer Experience for the Robesonia division of C&S Wholesale Grocers, was appointed board secretary. Bill Lipsky, Vice President of Merchandising with Shop n Save Pittsburgh for UNFI, and Chuck Tullis, Senior Vice President at Utz Quality Foods, joined the board as members at large.
PFMA is a statewide trade association that advocates for the interests of the food and beverage retail industry. It is led by a 37-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members. This volunteer group shapes the association’s agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
“We are thankful to have a strong and active PFMA board. The additions of Mike, Bill and Chuck and the experience they bring to the board will benefit the association and its membership,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “Thank you to our new and current members for their dedication and guidance.”
Mammone was named board secretary to replace Meg Mitchell, VP of Customer Experience at C&S Wholesale Grocers. He joined C&S in October 2019 as Senior Director of Business Development, overseeing growth for the Grocers Supply Division. Prior to joining C&S, he spent 30 years with SUPERVALU/UNFI where he increased roles of responsibility in the areas of GM/HBC, retail pricing, real estate, finance, credit, business development and sales. Mammone previously worked with UNFI as Director of Sales for the western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio markets.
For the past three years, Lipsky has served as Vice President of Merchandising with Shop n Save Pittsburgh for UNFI. His team is responsible for merchandising and marketing for the 80-plus independently owned and operated Shop n Save Stores in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and western New York. He previously held leadership positions in the Atlantic Region, including vice president of center store (grocery, dairy and frozen), retail formats and vice president of professional services.
Lipsky is a veteran of UNFI, formerly SUPERVALU, with more than 32 years of experience. He began his career in retail with GIANT, then moved on to Laneco Supermarkets in 1989. Beginning as a retail store manager, he held roles in corporate retail from district manager, perishable director and director of merchandising. In 2006, he moved into wholesale with SUPERVALU as director of sales and merchandising out of the New Stanton division of the former East Region, then was promoted to the Mechanicsville, Virginia, regional office in the stated leadership positions.
Tullis is Senior Vice President for Utz Quality Foods, where he oversees emerging channels as well as international and private brand sales for the 100-year-old company’s diverse brand portfolio. Today, the snack food company has more than $1 billion in sales. He began his career with Utz in June of 2009 as Vice President of National Brands. The following year, he was promoted to Vice President of Corporate Brands, in which he oversaw all marketing and branding activities, purchased snacks and integrating brands that were acquired during that time. He also oversaw retail, ecommerce and customer care functions.
Prior to joining Utz, he held executive roles with Zizzle Toys and Houston Harvest gift products. He also spent more than 15 years with Walmart and Sam’s Club, where he worked as a buyer in the snack category and rose to the position of director of regional merchandising.
PFMA is grateful for the service of our new and current board members.
The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association 2021 Annual Conference returned to its in-person format for two days of sessions at the Gettysburg Hotel this June.
Members, vendors and presenters gathered for the first time in 18 months, discussing a range of topics that highlighted sustainable practices, digital communication, tobacco and gaming. A virtual session with PA House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton also covered the recently passed Pennsylvania budget and challenges faced by the food retail industry.
After more than a year of navigating trials brought on by the pandemic, it was great to get these industry leaders together in person once again and talk about the future of the food retail industry.”
“The conference provides a valuable opportunity to network, brainstorm and plan for what’s ahead. Thank you to our members, presenters and vendors for sharing their insight and helping to make this year’s conference a success,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA.
After a brief annual meeting, the conference kicked off Tuesday with a presentation by representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, covering environmental justice, climate action, food waste reduction and the GreenChill program. GreenChill is a voluntary partnership with food retailers that works to reduce refrigeration emissions and stores’ impact on the environment. Several PFMA members are GreenChill certified.
Following EPA was a discussion on potential federal legislation that could impact the tobacco industry.
On Tuesday evening, PFMA welcomed attendees for a reception at the Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum. Before dinner, PFMA honored Nicholas Bertram, president of The GIANT Company, with its Food Industry Trailblazer award for his leadership and innovation in the food retail industry.
During Wednesday’s breakfast, attendees spoke with Rep. McClinton via Zoom. The Minority Leader shared updates on the recently passed PA budget and discussed a range of topics with members, including SNAP benefits, food deserts, pandemic mitigation efforts and more.
Andrea Karns, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Karns Foods, moderated a panel on digital and social media with speakers Sean Adams, Vice President, Marketing Communications and eCommerce, Utz Brands, Inc.; Chris Hartman, Director of Fuels, Forecourt, Advertising and Construction, Rutter’s; Jim Weber, President, Weber Advertising; and Robert Welsh, Director of Digital and E-commerce Marketing, The GIANT Company.
The first panel on Wednesday covered the creativity and challenges of digital and social media, especially with the rapid shift to online services over the past 18 months. Representatives from PFMA members Utz Brands, Rutter’s, The GIANT Company and Weber Advertising and Marketing shared their experiences and expertise. Closing out the conference, a second panel discussed news an upcoming legislation in Pennsylvania’s convenience gaming industry.
PFMA is grateful to all the attendees, presenters and vendors who made the conference possible. A special thank you to Gettysburg Hotel and Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum for remaining committed to the event while working through changing pandemic regulations.
The PFMA 2021 Fall Legislative Conference is scheduled for October 26 and 27 at the Hershey Country Club. Details are forthcoming.
During its annual conference dinner on Tuesday night in Gettysburg, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association honored Nicholas Bertram, president of The GIANT Company, with its Food Industry Trailblazer Award.
As the food retail industry navigated innumerous changes that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the best leaders anticipated and adapted to these changes, said Tom Cormier, chair of the PFMA Board of Directors and manager of government affairs for Ahold Delhaize USA. Well before the pandemic hit, Bertram consistently showed vision, innovation and passion, ensuring the success of his team and The GIANT Company. PFMA recognized this leadership by naming Bertram as its Food Industry Trailblazer.
Nick learned to never put himself above any person or any work,” Cormier said. “He has developed a unique culture at The GIANT Company that values and celebrates every member of its 35,000-person team.”
“It’s nice to finally be rebounding. It’s nice to finally have our eye on the future,” Bertram said when receiving the award. “All of us here tonight are blazing some kind of a trail. I think it’s possible. I think it’s one that will be healthier. I think it’s one that will be more inclusive. I think it’s one that will actually invite everybody, and I’m grateful to get the chance to build that with you all.”
Bertram began his career in retail more than 20 years ago at JCPenney. He moved onto Walmart as a part-time stocker. Over his 12 years with Walmart, he quickly assumed leadership roles in store operations, human resources and innovation. Bertram joined Jewel-Osco in Chicago as its senior vice president of retail, then in 2013, began working in executive roles at Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of The GIANT Company.
In 2017, Bertram was appointed president of The GIANT Company, an omni-channel grocer serving families across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
“Nick is an exceptional leader at The GIANT Company and in the food retail industry. He continues to pave the way with new innovations in his work, all with a focus on team and family,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We’re thrilled to honor his achievements.”
Bertram is the mastermind behind Marty the robot, proudly steered The GIANT Company to earn Supermarket News Retailer of the Year in 2019, rapidly accelerated its e-commerce business and led the company’s charge in Philadelphia by introducing a successful urban format unique to the city, unveiling a first-of-its-kind, two-level grocery store, Riverwalk, among other innovations.
Last year, Bertram oversaw the unveiling of The GIANT Company’s new brand platform, “For Today’s Table,” which emphasizes how sitting down for a meal connects families and creates stronger communities, ultimately leading to a better tomorrow for us all.
His focus on team and community has led to many accolades, including being named a 2020 Most Admired CEO by The Philadelphia Business Journal.
Bertram is chair for the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Chamber. He is also co-chair of the corporate council and a member of the Foundation Board of Overseers for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He earned a BBA in marketing from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA in global management from the University of Phoenix, along with post-graduate programs at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Harvard and The Wharton School. He loves spending time with his wife and four young boys, hiking, meditating and working out.